Monday, 5 June 2017

Bell Ringers, Change Ringers, Carillonneurs

The bell ringers, or change ringers, rang the bells of a church by pulling on ropes.  The bells were rung for special occasions and church services, as well as for rites like burials if you had the money to pay for the ringer.  In the 1500s church accounts, 3 bells for a burial would have cost 8 pence, and 5 bells would have cost 5 shillings and 4 pence. The value of 5s 4d for the year 2005 was about £82.

Ringing the bells at St Paul's Cathedral on New Years Eve

Different sizes and weights would have their own tone. Churches could have more or less 4-10 bells and the ringers would develop their own peals or use known peals. You can read about change-ringing here. You can see how a peal is constructed and listen to a Plain Bob Minor peal in right column, and another toward the bottom of the page.

A carillon is an instrument of bells, played by pedals or a special keyboard. It is more likely to be found in a cathedral or a city tower.

According to the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America ... "A carillon is a musical instrument consisting of a series of at least 23 tuned bells, played from a keyboard that allows expressiveness through variation in touch, and on which the player, or carillonneur, can play a broad range of music."

If you search "church bells" at HathiTrust you will get many results for the United Kingdom and the United States, including the Early Bells of Paul Revere. The church ones will tell you the different types and weights of bells they have, the inscriptions on the bells, and the bell founders.

Also check for an association of change ringers/bell ringers in your city, state or country. Meetings and members were often mentioned in the newspapers.

Relevant Links

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